Enter Delilah

George Hodson (January 2, 1797-November 4, 1878) married, January 1818, Delilah Britton (the surname is often reported as Rayle or Hunt) (October 10, 1784 or 1794-November 21, 1883). They are buried in the Centre Friends burial ground. Perhaps eleven children, one of them born previous to George and Delilah’s marriage.

Delilah, my great-great-great-grandmother, presents us with many unresolved questions. For starters, her first name – Delilah – is not one anticipated in Piedmont Quaker culture. Although she is not the only woman named Delilah in Guilford County during that period, the name expresses a woman who brought down a Jewish hero – albeit, a flawed Nazarite. Perhaps there was a recognition of a powerful Biblical woman, regardless of her partisanship, and of Samson’s own responsibility in becoming ensnared; there may also be an attraction to the musical nature of the name itself, which is not that far removed from Dinah, a popular Quaker name carried to North Carolina by the Nantucket Friends. Again, we have questions.

Even getting her first name straight involved some initial confusion in my research: a carbon paper typescript of the Centre Friends gravestones, made by the Daughters of the American Revolution, had it Dellah, and my cousin and fellow researcher Floyd Hodson, attempting to decipher notes handed down in our family, had Delica and Delice as possibilities.

Her surname before marrying George is variously given as Rayle or Hunt. Her legal birthname, however, turns out to be Delilah Britton. The death certificate of her son, William Hodson, records that name, on information provided by J.H. Davis of Greensboro.

The linkage to the Rayle surname is found in the Spring 2009 issue of The Guilford Genealogist, where an article, “Guilford County Bastardy-Related Orders and Issues Taken From the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions Minutes,” reports two cases where Matthew Rail/Rayl is named as the father, the first time in November 1794, the month after Delilah’s birth, with Ruth Britton, “a single woman,” is named as the mother, and again in May 1800, where no mother is named.

At this point, I have no knowledge of where Delilah was raised or how her mother survived. Perhaps they wound up living with Matthew Rayle, though little is known of him after the 1810 Census. It is possible Delilah went by the Rayle surname, acknowledging his paternity, or even that her mother did the same, regardless of legal status.

Matthew Rayle was raised in a Quaker family and was read out of New Garden Meeting the month before Delilah’s birth. The lawsuit over paternity came the month after her birth. The Brittons, or Brittains, were also Quaker, apparently based in Centre Meeting; details, however, are scant, as a consequence of the loss of its early records to fire. The Hunt connection has been more elusive, even though the Hunts and Rayles were closely related. My hunch is that Delilah had her first child by Absolom Hunt, who like Matthew Rayle, was read out of meeting at the time, although with some curious complications. While the Hunts were a prominent, prolific Piedmont Quaker family, the Rayles were a much smaller family at the periphery of Friends activity, and the Brittons even more so.

For all of the emphasis on marrying in accord with Quaker discipline and marrying within the faith, or in unity, Delilah represents another side of the Carolina Friends struggle, a realistic recognition of sexuality and the care of children. While neither she nor George was ever a formal member of the Society of Friends, they remained part of the community and under its care. They are, after all, buried in the meetinghouse yard.

I imagine the biggest problem in her own birth and the birth of her first child, as far as Friends were concerned, was the dishonesty on the part of men who likely made promises they never kept. While Friends have long maintained a testimony of honesty and honest dealing, there has also been an unvoiced testimony of responsibility – sober responsibility, at that. Divorce was unthinkable, as was leaving the mother of your child.

Because of their age difference, I long assumed that Delilah’s marriage to George was not her first. John K. Hodgin places their marriage in 1818, a year after Absalom’s birth.

While some sources give Delilah’s surname as Hunt, I received a letter from Betty Probst Fox of Yale, Iowa, reporting that the death certificate of Rachel (Hodson) Reynolds in Fillmore County, Minnesota, records the maiden name as Delilah Rule – a finding that led me to a futile search for possible Rule and even Ruhl connections, Quaker, Brethren (Dunker), and Mennonite. Based on the weight of the death certificate, I began leaning toward Rayle as her maiden name, and that she subsequently married a Hunt.

Complicating this, however, is the fact that the Rayles were already closely aligned with the Hunt family through two marriages, one in 1783 and the other 1792. Hunts named a son Pleasant in 1808; the name appears among the Rayles in 1811.

Whatever her origins, George and Delilah’s generation represents a break with previous traditions in several ways. In naming patterns we see middle names or initials appearing; previously, they had occurred only with George’s uncle, George Washington Hodson (son of George and Rachel Oldham Hodson), as an attempt to distinguish among the many other Georges in the family. Now, however, the practice spreads. Furthermore, we see a break between the distinctively British naming patterns. The Hodgson Borderers tradition, blending with Nantucket Biblical preferences and Philadelphia’s matrilineal/patrilineal crossings, now emerges with indications of an especially Southern sensibility: euphonious, often unique, names are chosen for children.

The Quaker culture was also beginning to shatter, partly under the pressure of maintaining a witness against their slaveholding neighbors, partly through depletion as kin continued to move away from the South, partly through an osmosis of other Protestant influences (we see Quaker children being named Calvin, Luther, and Wesley, for example), and partly through the Hicksite/Orthodox separation that had rent the Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York, and Ohio Yearly Meetings, closely followed by an Orthodox/Wilburite separation in New England and Ohio.

In addition, the Civil War and Reconstruction would exact a heavy toll on Carolina Quakers and their neighbors alike.

In the period when George and Delilah were born, as Samuel A. Purdie explains (“Quakerism in Dixie,” edited by Thomas D. Hamm, in The Southern Friend, Spring-Autumn 1999), Centre

was a large Monthly Meeting in those days, and had much to do to keep its membership, from being stained by the gross immorality which surrounded them in a land of slavery. It always tried to enforce the regulations of the Yearly Meeting on the subject of slavery, whilst the drunkenness and licentiousness which was continually making inroads upon the church, caused them to be almost constantly active in order to cleanse its garments from pollution. Almost constantly it was laboring with its delinquent members on the subject of drunkenness, while between the years 1773 and 1806 no less than 44 cases of complaints for a breach of the moral law, on the point of chastity came before the meeting. This may be a matter of surprise to those who are unacquainted with the condition of morality in the South.

Purdie, a New York Friend coming to North Carolina shortly after the Civil War, had access to some of the now-lost Centre minutes from this period. Delilah or her mother were likely among the 44 cases Purdie alludes to, and may help us better understand why we face so many obstacles in determining her ancestry.

At the time of their marriage, George is barely 21, while Delilah – already a mother and possibly an unwed mother or a widow – is 23. By Quaker standards, George, especially, is young to be marrying.

The 1860 Census (recorded as Hodgin) has George age 52 and Delilah, 65. This time, his age is in error: he would have been a decade older. His estate, valued at $1,000, is a considerable amount for the time. His residence, too, appears within a stretch of Hodgin kin, accounting for seven of the 10 households recorded by the enumerator. Two doors away is his son (or stepson) Absolom; two doors the other way is his cousin, Simeon.

George’s headstone gives his death as November 4, 1878, age 81 years, 10 months, 2 days. Delilah’s gravestone reads: “Delilah, wife of George Hodson, born Oct. 10, 1784, died Nov. 21, 1883, aged 89 yrs, 1 mo & 11 da.” In a Polaroid photo sent by Betty Probst Fox, the age can be seen as 89, though it is possible to see how some might read it as 99. Subtraction indicates the birth date is in error by ten years; likewise, the 1860 Guilford Census lists her as sixty-five, which would place her birth around 1795.

Theirs are the only Hodgson/Hodson line headstones for my direct ancestors at the Centre Friends burial ground, where they rest in the midst of many Hodgin stones as well as a few other Hodsons.

Because of the confusion surrounding Delilah’s maiden name, I found it necessary to examine all of the material I could collect for this period for both the Hunts and the Rayles. What emerges is an impression of life at the fringe of the Quaker community and its discipline.

She now appears to be an illigitmate daughter of Matthew Rayle, who was disowned by Friends shortly before her birth. Delilah may have briefly been married a Hunt, such as Absolom or William 2nd, although an out-of-wedlock affair might also be considered. Others possible origins would have her as the daughter of Thomas Hunt, disowned from New Garden 1793, or as a Rayle orphan adopted by Hunts.

The two articles in The Guilford Genealogist Spring 2009 edition, however, support Matthew Rayle as the “reported father” and Ruth Britton, “a single woman,” as the mother. The online link from Concord Friends cemetery, by the way, was the first I’d heard her name as anything but Rayle or Hunt.

This would support the theory of her being the daughter of Matthew Rayle, though not in the context we might have imagined. Here Ruth Britton may have simply used the Rayle surname for herself and her daughter, in acknowledgement of the relationship. Curiously, I’ve been able to find nothing on Matthew Rayle much after 1800, other than Census records.

BRITTON/BRITTAIN: This line, apparently originating in Wales, displays two sides in Guilford County. One has Quakers Benjamin and James coming from Virginia. The other is Presbyterian, from Pennsylvania, who are presumably the slaveowners enumerated in the Census.

Fred Hughes’ Guilford County, N.C.: A Map Supplement (The Custom House, 1988) suggests that impetus to Guilford County came through the Nottingham Company, which arranged land for Presbyterian migrants. But when Benjamin comes from Hopewell Meeting and James from Frederick County, both in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, they are following a route taken by many of the other early Guilford settlers.

Hughes notes that James Brittain buys Grant 5 in 1756, and Grants 20 and 30 in 1760. In addition to placing Grant 20 at C3, Hughes’ map of early settlers also shows Benjamin Britain at B3 in 1779, Danie [Danny] Britain at C3 in 1782, William Britain at C3 in 1768, and William Brittain at C3 in 1761.

New Garden’s minutes record Benjamin Brittain being received from Hopewell (Virginia) Meeting in 1755, and his brother William removing to marry Rebecca Ballinger in 1758. Benjamin was disowned in 1758 (no cause listed in the Hinshaw index). In 1776 William’s daughter Hannah married Jacob Hunt. In 1787 William (son of the above?) received permission to marry Lydia Davis but instead wed another woman at a justice of the peace and was disowned; Centre Meeting was to be informed. Other disownments for marrying out of unity include Ann (formerly Hunt) in 1797, Jemima in 1820, Melinda in 1827, and Millicen in 1845.

Springfield has Martha Brittain being received from Centre Meeting in 1796; the 1800 marriage of Martha, daughter of Robert and Mary of Randolph County, to John Mendenhall; Robert and Mary and their children, Paul, Jonathan, and Jane, being received from Centre in 1801 before moving on to Deep River in 1807. In the meantime, Paul was disowned in 1806 after marrying out of unity.

While the family obviously had members at Centre Meeting, its minutes for this period have unfortunately been lost to fire. New Garden, meanwhile, has no set of Brittain/Britton family births and deaths, leading me to suspect the family was basically at Centre. This is perplexing, though, since the family arrivals settle just north of New Garden, and close to the Lower Reedy Fork meetinghouse, which would be set off as Hopewell Meeting.

To the south, adjoining Centre Meeting, Randolph County Census records for 1790, 1800, and 1810 show none of the family. Instead, for 1790 in Guilford, where the name is spelled Britton, Benjamin has two males over 16, two females, and one slave; James has two males over 16, two under, and six females; Samuel has himself, two males under 16, and five females; William has three males over 16, one under, three females, and one slave. (The Census model would have Benjamin or James as the likely father of Ruth Britton, while the minutes would add Robert and Mary as an additional possibility.)

In 1800, there’s William Brittain, with two slaves; Henry Britain, with one slave; and Elizabeth Britain, with one slave.

The 1810 listing counts Samuel Britton, Joseph Brittain with five slaves, and Robert Brattain.

By the time of the Revolutionary War, few Friends continued to own slaves; the situation in the South was complicated by the fraudulent reenslavement of blacks who had been freed, which caused some Friends to continue legal ownership until the slaves could be transported to the North or Canada for release, but we can assume that the slaveowning Brittons were Presbyterian, or at least not Quaker.

A Guilford County Genealogical Society surname interest index for this period includes Samuel Brittain (1750-1755 Hopewell, Virginia; after 1834 Guilford County), William Brittain (died 1769, Rowan County, before Guilford), and Daniel and William (both 1791 and relocating to Greene County, Tennesee).

For now, all of this is incomplete and confusing. The marriage irregularities might suggest a less restrained sexual or romantic activity among the unmarried members than more proper Friends would have counseled. Online accounts of family origins are contested at many points; some claim the line originated in Wales.

Like the Rayles, we have suggestions of multiple marriage ties to the Hunts.

BROWN: George Rayle’s wife was Jeane/Jane Brown. The Browns are recorded at New Garden.

HUNT: As I have noted, the Hunts were a prominent, prolific Guilford Quaker family.

Fred Hughes’ Guilford County, N.C.: A Map Supplement (The Custom House, 1988), pinpoints eight Hunt households among Guilford County’s initial settlers: Eleazor, 1773; Isaiah, 1782; Jacob, 1784; James, 1785; John, 1786; John, 1797; Nathan, 1799; and Thomas, 1753.

It would appear that Thomas was the scion of this clan, but that model quickly tangles when the New Garden Monthly Meeting minutes are examined.

William Wade Hinshaw’s Virginia Quaker abstracts record significant Hunt activity, including Thomas and Eleazar and their families at Fairfax, 1749-1751, en route to North Carolina.

New Garden Friends record a Thomas Hunt, died Ninth Month 15, 1763. Son Abner and Mary Pope marry at New Garden, 1771, and have children, 1771-1784. Son Jacob marries Hannah Brittain, 1776, and they have children, 1777-1793. Son Isam marries, 1781, Ann Moon, and they have twins, 1783; later, Isom and Margaret have children, 1794 and 1795. Son William condemns his misconduct, 1783. Thomas’ daughters include Mary, Ruth, Sarah, Rebeckah, and Jemima.

The minutes also include these sons of William Hunt [son of William and Mary (Woolman) Hunt, and his wife, Sarah Mills, daughter of John and Sarah (Beals) Mills, married Tenth Month 6, 1753]: Isaiah, who weds, 1775, Elizabeth Floyd (died 1815), and they have children, 1776-1798; Isaiah is disowned, 1776, perhaps for military activity. Uriah marries Lydia Hiatt, 1775. Nathan marries, 1777, Martha Ruckman, and they have children, 1778-1788; Nathan, “son of William and Sarah,” then weds, 1791, Prudence Thornburg. Eleazar weds, 1782, Lydia Worley. William 2nd is disowned, 1792, for marrying out of unity.

A photocopied page from a genealogical encyclopedia, which I failed to notate when I made the copy, presents on page 389 a profile of Nathan Hunt, drawing upon the 1858 Memoirs of William and Nathan Hunt; M.M. Hobbs, “Nathan Hunt and His Times,” Bulletin of the Friends’ Historical Society of Philadelphia, November 1907; A.G. Way, “Nathan Hunt” in volume I of Quaker Biographies (n.d., 1926); The Friend (Philadelphia, Eighth Month 20, 1853); and The Annual Monitor, 1854, pages 167-208. Initialed R.M.J., it states:

HUNT, NATHAN (Oct. 26, 1758-Aug. 8, 1853), Quaker preacher, pioneer in education, was born in Guilford County, N.C. He was the son of William Hunt, a distinguished Quaker preacher who was born in 1733 in Rancocas, N.J. His mother’s maiden name was Sarah Mills. The father died of smallpox while on a religious mission in England in 1772. [This was the same year his cousin, the renowned Quaker minister John Woolman, also died of the disease while traveling under religious concern in England.] Nathan received a meager school education, but possessed a mind of strong native capacity and by means of extensive reading and much meditation and reflection became a leader in his community and in his religious denomination.

He married Martha Ruckman in 1778 and settled on the paternal farm which was near the Revolutionary battlefield of Guilford Court House. The family suffered serious financial losses on the occasion of the conflict. His first wife died in 1789 leaving six children, and three years later he married Prudence Thornburgh, by which union there were two children. His power as a preacher developed late in life. Although he began to speak in public meetings at the age of twenty-seven, he was not recorded a minister until he was thirty-five. From that time until old age weakened him he was an almost constant traveler and itinerant preacher. A mystic and seer rather than a reflective and argumentative preacher, he had sudden “insights” and “saw” into the state and condition of individuals and meetings. He acquired a remarkable prestige and attained a rare influence in Quaker circles, both at home and abroad. During the years 1820-21 he traveled in England, Ireland, and Scotland where large audiences, both Quaker and non-Quaker, came to hear his messages. He became the intimate and beloved friend of such distinguished men in England as the great chemist, William Allen, and the famous banker, Samuel Gurney. For some years previous to its opening in 1837 he was chairman of a committee to found and direct the New Garden Boarding School, which has since grown into Guilford College. … He was a powerful opponent of slavery in the midst of a slave-holding people. When the opposition, led by the conservative John Wilbur, of Westerly, R.I., to the “evangelical” teachings of the English Quaker Joseph John Gurney, was causing dissention and division in various parts of the country, Hunt was instrumental in preventing a “separation” in North Carolina. … He died at a ripe old age, in August 1853.

The New Garden Friends minutes also report the 1752 marriage of Eleazar Hunt (Eighth Month 1, 1725-First Month 21, 1781), son of William and buried at New Garden, to Catharine Cox ( -1785), and their eleven children, including sons Asa, William, Phinehas, Eleazar, and Abner. Asa weds, 1785, Priscilla Coffin (died 1793), and they have children, 1784 and 1791; Asa and Diana then have children 1814-1819. William, apparently their son, and first wife, Sarah, have children, 1754-1769; this may have been the William who then weds, 1783, Ann Rayle, and they have children, 1783-1800 (including Zimri, born seven months after their marriage). Phinehas marries, 1782, Elizabeth Piggott, and they transfer to Centre Monthly Meeting, 1784. Son Eleazar weds, 1789, Ann Newby. Abner marries, 1792, Mary Rayl.

In other minutes, these loose ends: In 1779 Josiah condemns his outgoings. John and Rachel have children, 1781 and 1783. (But another John Hunt, is born 1771 and dies in 1809.) A Thomas Hunt, born 1784, and wife Sarah, name their first child Delilah, born 1813; she marries, 1829, Zadock Rayl (Rayle). A William and Susannah have children, 1794-1810, including son Pleasant, born 1808. William Hunt, son of Thomas and Ann, dies Third Month 28, 1791 (but which Thomas?). A Thomas is disowned, Seventh Month 27, 1793.

Later minutes include an Asa, disowned 1813 for marrying out of unity; Zimri condemning his outgoings, 1815; Isaiah disowned for marrying out of unity, Eleventh Month 30, 1816, a Miriam Wilson; and an Absolam condemning his marrying out of unity, after announcing his intention to wed Sally Dicks, 1817 (the abstract of the minute is unclear, however, whether he marries Sally Dicks or someone else).

The actions regarding Absolam, incidentally, have had me particularly intrigued: the minuted events are quite unusual. In Fifth Month, he and Sally Dicks declare their intention, yet just one month later he “condemns his marrying out of unity.” For starters, he alone is disciplined, rather than Sally and he together. In addition, since the offense is “out of unity,” rather than “contrary to discipline,” the assumption is that he married a non-Quaker, which would fit Delilah Rayle, but not Sally Dicks. Although the minute abstract does not make the point clear, it appears that New Garden Friends did not accept his appeal for reinstatement: he does not appear in the minutes after this date. More pointedly, however, these minutes occur the same year Absolom Hodgin is born. Of course, if Absolam did wed Delilah, possibly as a consequence of a clearness committee’s learning he had conceived a child by her, and their insisting he “do right” by her, we are left with the question of what happened to him in the months before she weds George Hodson. Death? (Accidental? Or otherwise?) Divorce? Or did he even wed a third party altogether? This is all very conjectural, but for now fits the material as well as anything. After Absolom’s disownment, however, Sally Dicks vanishes from the usually meticulous Quaker records. They apparently married in a civil ceremony on May 31, 1817, and he posted a marriage bond on June 7, 1817, with his first name reported as Anselm, a variant that continues after they relocated to Vigo County, Indiana.

The 1790 Guilford Census lists 10 Hunt households: Abner, Atha (Asa), Azor, Eleazor, Jacob, John, Isaiah, Nathan, Thomas, and William.

The 1800 Guilford Census lists six Hunt households: Jacob, two Johns, Thomas, and two Williams.

The 1810 Guilford Census lists thirteen or fourteen Hunt households (two sources differ): Allen, Aser (Asa), two Eleazors (apparently senior and junior), Jacob, Jesse, Isaiah, Ithamar, Mary (which fails to tabulate any female over ten years old), T. Sr., William and William Jr., Z., and Zimri.

Guilford marriage bonds include a John Hunt and Mary Stuart, 1798; a Jonathan Hunt, son of John and Rachel (Haworth) Hunt, and Phebe Coffin, 1798; and Thomas and Phebe Anthony, 1797.

Thus, determining the Hunt connection leaves us with a host of individuals and many gaps in the data.

RAYLE: The line may originate in America as Palatine immigrants. For example, Hans Jacob Reyl, with Cathrine Reyl and Maria Reyl, arrives in Philadelphia in 1732 aboard the John and William.

Or the family may be Cornish, according to other speculation, including Quaker minutes.

There is a William Rayle Sr. born 1710 in Chester County, Pennsylvania. His son George, born May 6, 1738, goes to Guilford County, North Carolina.

A William Rayle was born in 1740 in York County, Pennsylvania, married in 1765 in Menallen Township, and died in Fayette County, Pennsylvania.

New Garden’s minutes record George Rayle being received by request, 1772, and name his wife as Jeane (or Jane) [Brown?]. Their children include twins, William (Twelfth Month 1, 1771-1842, who marries an Elizabeth born in 1798) and Matthew (Twelfth Month 1, 1771- ), who is disowned by New Garden in Eighth Month 30, 1794, perhaps for marrying a Nancy (?), although I am more inclined to believe it had to do with the pregnancy of Ruth Britton. Other children are Thomas (1773- ), who marries a Rachel and continues in Hopewell (North Carolina) Monthly Meeting; Nathan (1775- ), who marries Susannah Thornburgh and also continues at Hopewell Monthly Meeting; George (1780- ), who marries Ann or Hannah; Ann (1765- ), who marries William Hunt; Elizabeth (1767- ), who marries Caleb Johnson; Mary, (1769- ), who marries Abner Hunt; Rachel, (1777- ), who marries Abel Stanley; and Jeane (1782- ).

Matthew quickly becomes an enigma. No reason is given in the minute abstract for his disownment by New Garden in Eighth Month 30, 1794. Add to that the settlement against him in November 1794, as the supposed father of Ruth Britton’s child, and the plot thickens. “On Motion Ordered that Matthew Rail the repale Father of a base born Child begotten on the Body of Ruth Buttin Single Woman Pay unto the Said Rught-Buittin the Sum of Ten pounds Currency five pounds thereof in Six months and the other five Pounds in Twelve Months from this Date for the purpose of Maintaining the Said baseborn child as also entered into Bond and security in the sum of fifty Pounds to Indemnify the County from any Charges that may accrew on Acct. of said base born Child an gave for Sect. Matthew Brown and Francis McMavey in L 25 each. Acknowledging in open Court as also the principal in L 50.” The Guilford Genealogist has the latter’s name as Francis McNairy and Matthew Rail as the Reputed Father.

It’s possible that Matthew was intimately acquainted with several women in this period, perhaps even marrying one of them. The May 1800 bastardy-order names William Howlet and Thomas Wright as the securities; I am assuming this is for another mother and child. Here “Matthew Royl The Defendant Ackd reg in the sum of L100 to keep the County from Damade & gave his Sect William Howlet & Thomas Wright each bound in the sum of L25.”

Other court entries have him being appointed constable for a year, being paid for construcing a bridge of Horsepen Creek, being among 11 men “appointed paterrolers for this County for one year,” and, in another case, noted simply as “Matthew Royl sworn sayeth he owes Nothing – “ The sworn comment, incidentally, reflecting how far Matthew had come from the ways of Friends, who would never swear an oath, especially in court.

Curiously, I’ve been unable to locate any evidence that Matthew married or had legitimate children. His death is presumed to be before 1850.

The 1820 Census shows him engaged in agriculture and manufacturing (as was William Rayl). Matthew’s household had three white males under the age of 10, one age 10-16, and one 45+. There was one female under age 10, one 16-26, and one 26-45.

For a wider look at the Rayle family, I turn to an entry on Samuel Rayle, “representative of the ordinary citizen of Guilford County during the Revolutionary War,” in Fred Hughes’ Guilford County: A Map Supplement. Here Samuel alternated between wheelwright and blacksmith as his occupation, and served three tours of military service. He was born in upper Pennsylvania in 1751, and his father died while Samuel was still a child. “In 1773, at the age of 21, Rayle had completed his indenture, was released, and immediately went to Guilford County, where an older brother and other members of his family were already living. Rayle settled five or six miles west of Guilford Courthouse. His brother George received a land grant on Moon Creek, apparently the family farm.” In the mid-1780s, Samuel moved to Tennessee.

Hughes gives 1767 as the date of George Rayle’s patent; he is recorded in the 1790 Guilford Census as George Rale having four free white males 16 and older, two under 16, and four free white females.

The family then vanishes from the 1800 Guilford Census, which perplexes me, considering the number of free white males in the family 10 years earlier.

In 1810, however, the family is again enumerated: George, George Jr., Matthew, N., and William. None of them has a free white female falling in the age 15 range (where we would expect to find Delilah), although George Jr., Matthew, and William each have one female in the 16-26 range. In the case of George Jr., this would appear to be his wife.

William and Elizabeth’s line also continues at Hopewell, and there we find a Pleasant Rayl born to them, 1811, three years after the name appears in the Hunt family.

Hopewell Monthly Meeting was set off in 1824 from New Garden. What had already begun as Lower Reedy Fork worship group four miles from New Garden was given the Hopewell Preparative Meeting name in 1793. Rayles active in Hopewell’s early life included Ann, Elizabeth, Hannah, Nathan, Thomas, and William.

Paul Mills reports a Joseph Mills, son of Henry and Elizabeth (John) Mills, marrying in 1813 Sarah Raley, daughter of Eli and Mary Raley. At this point, I find no Eli Rayle, although the Guilford Census lists do include in 1790 an Elisha Rawly (one male sixteen and upward, three under sixteen, and four females in 1790), in 1810 an Elijah Raleigh (one male under ten, one 10-16, one 16-26, and one over forty-five, plus two females under ten, one 16-26, and one 26-45); in 1810 this is Elijah Rawly (one male 16-26, one 26-45, and one over 45, plus one female 10-16 and another over forty-five). In each instance, this is the only Rawly/Raleigh household recorded, leading me to suspect a connection with the Rayles – especially if Elijah/Elisha and Eli prove to be the same individual.

Relevant Guilford marriage bonds include Isaac (x) Raligh and Sarah Hancouck, 1797; John Rally and Rhody Hancock, 1799; Albert Rayle and Betsey Adams, 1830; Asa Rayle and Elizabeth White, 1834; Caleb Rayle and Parthena Kellum, 1829; Charles Rayle and Mahala Thornborough, 1829; George Rayle and Hannah Kanaday, 1802; George Rayle III and Anne White, 1819; George Rayle and Dilly Fuller, 1839; Lynch Rayle and Martha Jestes, 1832; Lynch Rayle and Judah Stanley, 1840; Pleasant Rayle and Mary Lloyd, 1834; Thomas Rayle and Sally Vullum, 1824; William Rayle and Elizabeth Thorpe, 1796; William Rayle and Ann Knight, 1836; Zadock Rayle and Delilah Hunt, 1829; Milton (x) Rayle and Mary Cain, 1830; and Pleasant (x) Ryley and Rebecca Davis, 1829.

June (Hodson) Scheoffler reports that many Rayles are buried at the Hopewell Wesleyan Church cemetery in Summerfield, Guilford County (Guilford Courthouse Battlefield locale).

Hints at earlier activity include a John Rale producing a certificate from Falmouth, Cornwall, England, 10-6-1756 (at N.Y.M.M.?). William Wade Hinshaw’s Virginia Quaker abstracts include a John Realy (Raley) in 1686 at Henrico and Clear Creek Monthly Meetings; John, Thomas, and James in New Kent County, 1719-1749; and Hopewell Monthly Meeting, 1783-1802; and at Crooked Run Monthly Meeting, 1788-1790.

There are also Raleys arriving at Burlington, New Jersey, Orthodox Friends 1867/1868 from Sandy Spring and Damascus, Ohio; this line could well be from North Carolina.

EDWARDS: Another disownment from New Garden provides a curious coincidence. Fifth Month 31, 1794, a Jemima Edwards was read out of Meeting; again, the abstract gives no reason.

She is the daughter of David Edwards (born 1731-died 8-29-1788) and Hannah (Ballinger) (1735-1785), who married at New Garden in 1753. A comparison of their children’s given names, and those of George and Delilah Hodson, are instructive. A + below marks a given name repeated in the Hodson line:

+ William (1754 – )

David (1756 – )

+ Henry (1757 – )

+ Rachel (1760, died the same year)

James (1761 – )

Hannah (1763 – )

Hannual (1765 – )

Eleanor (1767, died seven weeks later)

Jonathan (1768- )

+ Absalem (1770 – )

+ Jemima (1774 – )

Nathan (1776 – )

Joshua (1778 – )

From this, one could argue that a four-month pregnant Jemima Edwards was disciplined by New Garden Friends, as was the father, Matthew Rayle, when his identity was determined. The child is then named Delilah. A generation later, she, too, becomes pregnant out of wedlock and marries Absolom Hunt about two months after the birth of the child. This is included as an alternative to the Ruth Britton explanation.

Crucial points for further research

The overwhelming question in this generation requires clarification of Delilah’s ancestry. First, the Hunt and Rayle lines require untangling. Which one is she, and how does that relate to the others?

Second is the matter of the Britton surname.

Then there is the matter of Absolom Hodson’s date of birth. Was he from a previous marriage? Was he illegitimate? If so, was George the father?

The date of Delilah’s birth itself appears evasive.


5 thoughts on “Enter Delilah”

  1. Hello,
    I’m enjoying your ancestry stories, and I believe you may contain a link which I’ve been missing. I’ve built a tree on Ancestry.com and have found a DNA match which combines both of my parents. The link, apparently, is through the Hodgson line specifically George Hodgson and Rachel Oldham. The possiblelink between my parent’s, I believe, is in the Britton line. On my mother’s side there is a marriage between John Rogers (1757 – 1822) and Elizabeth Britton, birth/death information unknown currently. I was just wondering if you might possibly have any information involving these two families.

    Thank you,

    1. The Britton line is one that continues to perplex me. Some of the details are no doubt lost in the Centre Meeting records that burned in a house fire. Good luck on unraveling this.

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